Howard hopes to reap rewards

Leicester head coach Pat Howard believes the 26-25 win over Sale demonstrates the depth of his squad - and has hinted some of his fringe players have a chance of featuring in the EDF Cup final. [more]

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Leicester head coach Pat Howard believes the 26-25 win over Sale demonstrates the depth of his squad – and has hinted some of his fringe players have a chance of featuring in the EDF Cup final.

Howard rang the changes at Edgeley Park, with just two players remaining from the starting line-up that beat Stade Francais 21-20 last weekend.

Flankers Tom Croft and Luke Abraham each scored tries, while utility back Sam Vesty capped a fine performance by slotting home the winning penalty in the last minute to take the Tigers top of the Guinness Premiership.

With five games in the space of 23 days – also including the Heineken Cup semi-final with Llanelli – Howard has no qualms about giving his lesser-known players a chance even against the Ospreys at Twickenham next Sunday.

He said: "I’ve got a selection headache and that’s what we’ve always wanted from our squad.

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"We’ve always said we wanted a strong squad and I’m looking to press the level so that the guys that go on the field raise the standard and do the squad justice.

"A few guys certainly put their hands up against Sale and I have got a few selection headaches, which is a good thing."

Sale director of rugby Phillippe Saint-Andre acknowledges his Sharks side will be fighting for their lives when they face Bath at Edgeley Park next Friday.

Saint-Andre’s men have not won in the league in seven league matches since beating Gloucester 20-19 at the start of January and having won the Guinness Premiership last season, their top-flight status is far from secure.

The Frenchman said: "We’ll play for our lives next week against Bath.

"It’s very tough. We haven’t won since January and it’s difficult. All the time the 50-50 things are going against us.

"We are low on confidence and we’re making silly mistakes. Next Friday we’re playing for the future of the club in this division."

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